Next stop: Merida, 300km inland from Cancun, the capital of the Yucatan peninsula. A sauna of relentless 40 degree heat, it feels like this city never cools down. Merida was a great contrast from our travels so far, laced in history, full of old, rundown buildings and churches, hosting the largest cathedral in the continent, making plenty to see. The locals are very friendly, recommending in there eyes some of the best things for us to visit. Spending a few days in Merida we could really feel why it is said to be the safest city in Mexico and one of the safest in the world. Its not your typical stereotype of the country being dangerous to travel through.
Merida feels really friendly and welcoming as the government subsidies a huge number of attractions making them free to the public. We spent most of the day visiting some of these iconic building around the city and stumbling across one of the most amazing markets we’ve ever seen. The place was huge, their market stalls were set up on handmade rickety stands. They were selling an array of pretty much everything, lots of exotic fruits, vegetables and spices by the kilo. A highlight was being able to see the full tortilla making process. Then trying them straight from the oven.
We were also told about a zoo in the middle of the city, curious by the thought of a zoo in another country we decided to visit. Unlike the typical zoos we have seen before you were able to get right upto the animals enclosures. We had a chance to see tigers (even white tigers) and lions literally meters away from us as well as hippopotamus playing in a water. It was amazing to see animals so close to you, but on the other hand it was sad to discover that the only reason for this to be possible is just the fact that cages are so small so they have nowhere else to go.
In the evening we headed out for some typical Mexican food – tacos made out of handmade tortillas, filled with all sorts of meaty fillings, from chicken through pork to beef and of course plenty of spice. We finished the evening socialising and having beers with Raul & his friends.
On our last day in the area our host was keen to show us his local coastline. He took us to visit Progreso a beach town half an hour out of Merida. This is a very different coastline to the Cancun area, it’s not nearly as pretty and mainly set up for windsurfing as of the shallow waters. Turn inland and there’s a Laguna with flamingos a complete surprise and amazing to see. This will be put on our bucket list to see again. This area is a huge hot spot for the locals as this is where they have their summer houses.